Sunday, 17 March 2013

The God of the second chance

Jonah - as we have been discovering during our Lent course at St James and St |Anne's - was a bit of an idiot.

He got the daft idea into his mind that he could run away from God by travelling to Spain and it took a few days inside the belly of a fish to get him on track again - once, that is, he had been spewed up on the beach..

Then the Lord spoke to him again and he got a second chance to do what the Lord had wanted him to do all along: preach to the Ninevites.

He was not suspended, pending an official enquiry. He was not quietly retired on medical grounds. Nor did the media gloat at his folly, whilst firmly rubbing salt into the wound with 'downfall of the man who had everything' articles.

No, instead, the Lord gave him a second chance. Simple as that.

Once again the Bible is impressively out of step with the modern world.  On the one hand it takes sin far more seriously, on the other, it is much stronger on forgiveness.

The Bible doesn't follow the 'everybody is doing it' justification for sin, nor does it consider that God's standards need to be brought into line with the Metropiltan elite thar runs the main political parties in 2013. It tends to call a sin a sin but then it is far more forgiving of human failure than mainstream opinion in Britain, because it believes in the God of the second chance.

Jonah was part of a long line of failed leaders, given a second chance by God. Moses, David, Abraham, Paul, Peter, and the rest of the disciples were equally flawed.

When a politician falls, the media are quick to pronounce their career is over (as they have done this week with Chris Huhne). The lesson of Jonah is, that so far as his people are concerned, God views things rather differently.

Indeed, the church is full of recycled sinners who have been given a second chance by God. In fact, it is exclusively made up of such people.

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